Many capstone projects involve developing software applications to solve real-world problems. One example is a social networking application for senior citizens that was designed to help combat isolation and loneliness. The students conducted user interviews with seniors to understand their needs and pain points. They then developed a desktop and mobile application with features like photo sharing, local event calendars, group messaging boards, and video chat. The application was tested with senior focus groups and refined based on their feedback. The students wrote technical documentation, developed a marketing plan, and presented the project to potential community partners.
Another common type of capstone project is developing tools or systems to help non-profit organizations and local governments. For example, one group of students worked with a local food pantry to create a web application to manage their inventory and coordinate volunteer scheduling. The old paper-based system was inefficient and error-prone. The students designed a database to track all inventory items with expiration dates. They created an administrator interface to scan donations in and out, generate expiration alerts, and produce analytics on item needs. A client-facing section allowed volunteers to sign up for shifts online. The project helped the food pantry transition to a digital system and gain efficiencies to better serve the community.
Some students have worked on developing educational applications and games. One project was an interactive web-based science learning game for middle school students focused on environmental science concepts. The game incorporated interactive simulations, mini-games, and quizzes to teach topics like the carbon cycle, water pollution, and animal habitats. The students designed instructional frameworks aligned to state education standards. They leveraged game engines to create 3D virtual environments and programmed gameplay logic. User testing was done in local classrooms and feedback was used to refine the game experience. Upon completion, the website and game assets were handed off to a non-profit partner to continue developing and disseminating the educational resources.
Some students have focused their capstone projects on artificial intelligence and machine learning topics. For example, one group trained convolutional neural networks to classify dermatological diseases from patient skin image datasets. They explored techniques like data augmentation and transfer learning using models pre-trained on ImageNet. The goal was to develop a tool to assist physicians with diagnosis. In another project, natural language processing techniques were used to build a chatbot for career counseling. Students collected text conversations to train recurrent neural networks to understand intents and converse about topics like resume building, interview preparation and further education options.
Regardless of the technical focus, all Utica College computer science capstone projects emphasize real-world problem solving. Students work directly with partners in the community to understand needs, propose solutions, implement prototypes or minimum viable products, and ensure their work provides tangible value. Comprehensive documentation, presentations to stakeholders, and iterative development based on feedback are also important components of the capstone experience. The goal is for students to demonstrate both technical skills and soft skills like project management, communication and collaboration that are crucial for technology careers.